LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Double H BBQ is pivoting due to COVID-19 from holding its long-standing turkey fry to support the Lexington Firefighter's Toy Program to a raffle fundraiser.
For 25 years, Bill Hanley and his brother have upheld a tradition of deep-frying turkeys for others on Thanksgiving.
"[It started] just frying turkeys in my brother's backyard and for friends that didn't have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving," Hanley said. "And then that turned into where one year we did 75 turkeys and we thought we were really doing something."
The brothers later opened Double H BBQ on Versailles Road in Lexington.
"Then we brought it to the restaurant. And each year it's gone up at least by 100 [turkeys] every year," Handley said. "So it's been a major undertaking but it's fun, it's a really hectic, long day. I think we started like six in the morning on Thanksgiving Day, and probably don't end and we say we're going to cut it off at four, but we're always here till about seven o'clock."
Last year the Double H BBQ team fried 472 turkeys. The team donated cash or a toy to the Lexington Firefighter's Toy Drive for each turkey that was brought in.
Due to COVID-19, the brothers decided it would be best not to hold the turkey fry in 2020.
"There was no way we could have as many people as we have run in and out of here picking up turkeys," Hanley said.
Instead, for their 2020 fundraiser for the Toy Program, Double H BBQ is holding a raffle for two prime rib dinners for 10 with two sides. For every $10 or toy donated, donors receive an entry in the raffle.
"It is a sad thing that toy program is the one that's really going to suffer through all this," Hanley said. "And in a year when you would think a lot more need because people have been laid off, and people can't work and a lot of kids are going to need this help. The fire department has been really good they're still trying to put some kind of program together. And we're just trying to do a little part."
The restaurant's partnership with the Lexington Fire Department began when the business opened about eight years ago.
"We had a few firemen show up. And then all of a sudden we had a few more show up. And it's every day you can look out in our parking lot and there's a fire truck or an ambulance...and a lot of policemen," Hanley said.
Hanley added that the two parties have built a strong relationship over the years.
"We really enjoy working with the firemen they are a great fraternity of people; they are just wonderful. And they really believe in this cause," he said. "And they always support us. So, in a way, this is our way of supporting them back."
As a restaurant in Kentucky, Hanley admitted it has not been an easy year for business.
"I'll tell you what really hurts...We probably canceled like 20 something weddings. Then you take out Keeneland tailgating, football tailgating, and then just the regular get-togethers that families had through the summer," he said. "So our catering business is really off. I would say that it's almost non-existent. But until we get through this, that's just going to have to be what it is."
Double H BBQ will accept donations for the Lexington Firefighters Toy Program beginning Monday through Dec. 18. The business is open for carry-out but will be closed over the Thanksgiving holiday.